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Why New Research Says Deep Sleep Is Essential For Blood Sugar Control

Sarah Regan
Author:
July 15, 2023
Sarah Regan
mbg Spirituality & Relationships Editor
By Sarah Regan
mbg Spirituality & Relationships Editor
Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Editor, and a registered yoga instructor. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from SUNY Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.
(Last Used: 2/18/21)
Image by Clique Images / Stocksy
July 15, 2023

When it comes to blood sugar control, we're quick to think about dietary factors like eating more fiber and less sugar, but how often do we consider our sleep hygiene and the impact it has on blood sugar?

According to new research published in the journal Cell Reports Medicine, deep sleep may actually hold a blood sugar-controlling mechanism that was previously misunderstood. Here's what they found.

Studying the connection between sleep and blood sugar

For this study, researchers from UC Berkeley wanted to dig into the connection between sleep, blood sugar, and diabetes risk. To do so, they had 600 participants complete sleep studies, followed by glucose and insulin measurements the following morning.

They discovered that deep-sleep brain waves may actually predict next-day blood sugar control, with the study authors noting that deep-sleep was even more reliable for predicting blood sugar than how long, and how efficiently, the participants slept.

As the brain enters deep sleep and those waves start firing, researchers observed, the body enters a parasympathetic state, which allows for greater sensitivity to insulin. This sensitivity tells cells to absorb glucose, which then prevents blood sugar spikes.

And for what it's worth, the team was further able to replicate their findings in a larger sample size of 1,900 people.

As senior study author Matthew Walker Ph.D. explains in a news release, "In the electrical static of sleep at night, there is a series of connected associations, such that deep-sleep brain waves telegraph a recalibration and calming of your nervous system the following day," adding, "This rather marvelous associated soothing effect on your nervous system is then associated with a reboot of your body's sensitivity to insulin, resulting in a more effective control of blood sugar the next day."

How to get more deep sleep

These findings come as good news to anyone who wants to lower their risk of diabetes or gain more control over their blood sugar. The researchers hope new technologies that allow for the safe alteration of brain waves during deep sleep could even be a promising health intervention for blood sugar control.

But until those kinds of tools become more available to the everyday person, the findings also highlight the importance of prioritizing deep sleep.

As such, one of the best things you can do for your overall sleep hygiene is to maintain a consistent sleep/wake schedule—that is, going to bed and waking up at the same time every day.

Research also shows that exercising regularly is a good way to prime the body and brain for deep sleep. In one analysis of existing exercise and sleep studies, researchers write, "Exercise promoted increased sleep efficiency and duration regardless of the mode and intensity of activity" in middle-aged and elderly adults.

And of course, to make sure you're getting the most out of deep sleep, you might want to consider trying a quality sleep supplement with ingredients that are research-backed to help people fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer, such as magnesium and PharmaGABA®.

Here's our full guide on how to get more deep sleep for more information.

The takeaway

The more we learn about the mechanisms of sleep, the more it's abundantly clear there are few areas of our health that sleep doesn't touch—blood sugar included. So if your blood sugar has been out of whack and you're not sure why, getting more deep sleep might be the solution you've been missing.

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